10,000 Light Years Ago is the superb new studio album by legendary Moody Blues bassist John Lodge.
It’s Lodge’s first album of new solo material since 1977's Natural Avenue.
The album contains some of Lodge's most personal songs and even features guest performances by former Moody Blues members Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder.
I recently spoke with Lodge about the new album and some highlights from his career with the Moody Blues.
GUITAR WORLD: It’s been quite a while since your last solo album. What spawned this project?
I've been thinking about making an album for a few years now. It was based on a thought process I had where the future is always in reach but the past is gone forever. But I didn’t want to make an album that was retrospective. I wanted to make one that was about who I am today.
How would you describe the album as a whole?
I always look at the song "10,000 Light Years Ago." When I wrote that song, I knew that's what the album was going to be called. Then when I looked at the lyrics, it really told me what I wanted to write about. Standing there fearlessly and thinking about what’s going on in the world. To me, it's an eclectic collection of songs that all end up 10,000 light years ago. Everything from the past has made me what I am today.
Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album, starting with “In My Mind." How was that song conceived?
I remember I had a flute line going through my head along with chords that kept getting bigger and bigger. I wanted the keyboards to create this audio/visual universe and for the guitars to run through it all. Then I wanted it all to easily come back down into a very easy, close lyric and twelve-string playing away and then building back up. It was a visual image in my mind.
How about “Simply Magic”?
I wrote that song for my grandson. I wrote it for him, but it's really for everyone. The lyric “Just when I thought nothing could get any better than this, you came along like the words of a song” was important. When something happens in your life that changes you and is something you never thought would happen, it's like a rebirth. That's what the song is about.
It's also a real “Moody Blues” kind of song, and that's why I asked Ray Thomas to come in and play flute on it. Then when Ray came in, he suggested I ask Mike Pinder to play on it too. I thought that was a great idea. So I called Mike and asked him if he'd like to play Mellotron on it and he said, "Yes, of course!" It all came together very quickly. For me, the whole thing was simply magic.
Are there any plans for you to do shows to support 10,000 Light Years Ago?
I'd love to. I remember Justin [Hayward] and I made an album a long time ago called Blue Jays but never toured on it in the U.S. I was really sad about that because there are some wonderful songs on that album that never got to see the light of day in a live performance.
I would love to go out on the road and perform these new songs. When you write a song at 3 in the morning in silence, you often wonder if anyone is ever going to hear it. Then suddenly the album is out and you find yourself on stage performing it. It really completes the circle.
One of my favorite Moody Blues songs is “I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)." Can you tell me the origin of that song?
The song came about because at that time, people had decided that various groups had the answer to everything. People would always come up to me and say I was going to be doing this or that. I remember coming out of my house one day and people were outside standing at my gate saying, "We're here because you're going to be flying the spaceship to save the world!" I said, "No. I'm not going to be doing that. I actually don't even like flying!" [laughs]. But they persisted and kept saying I was the chosen one to fly the spaceship. That’s when I said, "No, I'm not. I'm just a bass player who sings in a band!"
That was when I realized that what they said gave me the credence and allocated the thought process that what we were as a group wasn’t anything special. We were just the same as everyone else. I wanted to write a song about it. I thought, if you want the world to change, change it yourself. Don't ask me to change it.
Of all of the highlights of your career, is there one particular moment that sticks out as most memorable?
I'd have to say that doing two shows at Madison Square Garden on the same day was one of the highlights. No one had ever done that before and to have this huge traffic jam with 20,000 people leaving at the same time 20,000 people were trying to get in was pretty unbelievable. That was a very special day.
What would you like people to take away from listening to 10,000 Light Years Ago?
I've really enjoyed the process of this album. It's who I am and what I do. I hope people enjoy it and get out of it the same emotions that I put into it.
For more about Lodge, visit johnlodge.com.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.